My friend Norma Miller posted this picture with a jokey comment her friend made:
“A friend told me that if I was smiling, I wasn’t trying hard enough.”
That kind of joke is not a joke
That kind of joke causes injuries.
That kind of joke makes you doubt yourself. You push yourself harder. You stop trusting your own judgement.
You do too much. And when you do injure yourself, you don’t rest and really heal. You doubt your judgement about the injury.
No pain no gain is a myth. Even for exercise. And definitely when used as an analogy for other kinds of work.
Have your gremlins ever used that line on you?
They might also have said seemingly innocuous things like
Academics don’t get holidays.
Academics don’t get weekends.
Watching the clock is unprofessional don’t you think?
I’ve seen academics I like and trust repeat these kinds of lines on Twitter. The intention is never malicious. Often people are trying to convince themselves that they are making good decisions.
But this joke is not funny. It can cause injuries. You doubt your judgement. You push yourself harder. You do too much. You don’t reset and recover. If you really are enjoying your work, you discount the time and effort you put in as not-really-work. You try to make up that time somehow.
You can work hard AND enjoy it
The fact that no one is counting your hours doesn’t mean they expect you to work all the hours. It means that they think what you create is more important than how many hours you spend creating it. If the work you enjoy creates positive learning environments, published papers, and other things your institution values, then it counts.
You are not being paid to compensate you for unpleasant work. You are being paid for the contribution you make to the goals of the organization.
Rest and time off increase the value of what you do
When you are well rested, you are more effective, you make fewer mistakes, you are more patient with students and colleagues, you are more creative …
When you are enjoying your work, you do a better job. You put more of yourself into it.
Not only are you allowed to enjoy your work. You really should be aiming to enjoy your work.
It should go without saying that none of this has anything to do with justifying low pay. If you are not enjoying your work because you are not being paid enough, then that’s important. As my post should make clear, I think that you should be paid more to do work you enjoy because you produce more and better quality stuff.
Last edited 9 November 2018.